Throughout this experience thus far, I've learned to tailor each class to every child who participates in the program. It is an ongoing learning experience, as I have to quickly adapt and adjust my class based on who is in class — their age, the type of treatment they are undergoing, their willingness, or even the language they speak.
I enjoy helping the children practice the poses which they originally thought they were unable to do. Oftentimes they become quickly engaged when I introduce games, breathing balls, and of course, the calming meditation globe.
Each child comes to me with different needs, but the one thing they have in common is the need to be a kid again. I originally thought I would need to bring joy to children who were sad and upset because they had cancer, but what I found instead were grateful and happy children.
These are children who have been forced to grow up a bit faster; however, their knowledge of their bodies and sickness is mind-blowing, and they are willing to be present and at peace in their situation — a lesson all of us could learn from.
One thing that has stuck with me through my time with these children is the gratitude they have for life and their loved ones.
When we did an art project about thankfulness, one child wrote that she was thankful that they caught her cancer early. That little girl had the power to make me realize that as adults we often find ourselves returning to our mats, struggling to let go and find our childlike nature.
To truly be childlike is to surrender to ourselves to the present moment and continue to strive no matter what the circumstances, just like these brave children do.
Photos courtesy of MD Anderson Cancer Center